How to distill sea water

Written by cynthia gomez
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Knowing how to distil seawater into drinkable water is essential for survivalists, campers and those who spend time in parts of the world where clean, fresh drinking water is hard to find. Desalination is being increasingly used to provide people around the world with drinking water. Fortunately, turning seawater into fresh water is not difficult at all.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • A distilling flask
  • Heat source
  • Container with lid

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    How to Distill Sea Water

  1. 1

    Collect the seawater you plan to distil in your distilling flask. A distilling flask is a multi-part apparatus that can be purchased at most camping and outdoors stores. A round flask attaches to a still head, which attaches to a cold water condenser and a receiving area. When collecting seawater, try to get as clean a sample as possible. This will help achieve good-tasting fresh water.

  2. 2

    Heat the water to the point of boiling. This can be done over a stove or a heat source such as Sterno fuel, which many campers carry for cooking. If you're attempting to do this over an open fire, you will need something to hold onto the flask, such as a long pair of tongs; otherwise, you may end up burning yourself. As the water boils, you will see the steam rise from the bottom part of your flask up the still head. It will begin to collect in the receiving area, where it will convert from steam back into water. The salt will be left in the original flask.

    If you do not have access to a heat source, you can still distil water, it will just take longer. Simply leave the distilling flask in an area where the sun can hit it from all angles. The sun's heat will help the water evaporate, separating fresh water from salt. Likewise, if you do not have a water distiller, you can make your own following the simple construction principle of a distiller. You need one flask to put the salt water in, tubing for steam to rise through and a receiving area for the steam to condense back into water.

  3. 3

    Empty the fresh water collected in the receiving portion of your distilling apparatus into a container with a lid so that the water does not evaporate into the air. Empty the salt from the distilling flask. Repeat this process until you've got a sufficient amount of fresh drinking water. Remember to cover the lid of your storage container each time you empty a new batch of fresh water so that it does not evaporate.

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